Thursday, 20 July 2023 03:52

Supreme Court, APC deny alleged phone conversation between Tinubu, CJN

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The Supreme Court and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have denied social media posts on an alleged secret phone conversation between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, and President Bola Tinubu.

They denied the reports in separate statements on Tuesday and Wednesday.

They were reacting to a media report suggesting that the two men recently had a phone conversation focusing on how to pressurise the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to rule in favour of Tinubu and his party, the APC.

Tinubu’s victory at the 25 February presidential election is being contested by two leading opposition party candidates – Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.

There is also the third petition filed against Tinubu’s victory by the All Peoples Movement (APM).

The CJN wields enormous influence in presidential election cases, which will end up at the Supreme Court.

He can choose to appoint himself to head the seven-member panel that will give the final verdict on the cases. Whether he chooses to be on the panel or not, he has the prerogative to choose its members.

As the head of the Supreme Court, the CJN is also head of the entire Nigerian judiciary, who also oversees the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body responsible for the appointment and disciplining of judges across the country.

But reacting to reports over Ariwoola and Tinubu’s alleged phone conversation, Director of Press at the Supreme Court, Festus Akande, on Wednesday, said there was no such communication with either the president or anyone.

Akande also said, contrary to social media speculations, Ariwoola did not also have any phone call with the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Bichi.

He said, “It is imperative to state clearly that there is no iota of truth in the narrative, as there was no such telephone conversation between the CJN and anyone.”

Akande said Nigerians “have been following the proceedings at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with admirable enthusiasm,” urging that the public allow the suit to be determined “instead of relapsing into the realm of speculations and rumour peddling that will not do anyone any good.”

He warned that “falsehood and mudslinging” would stall Nigeria’s progress.

“The courts are statutorily established to serve the best interest of the masses, and we are ever poised to do that to the best of our ability,” Akande assured.

He further assured that the parties before the court over the disputed election would be treated without bias, adding that “The rule of law and supremacy of the Nigerian Constitution will always be upheld and applied in every matter that comes before the courts.”

“The public should be assured that justice will be done to all matters pending in the various courts across the country, irrespective of who is involved,” he added.

APC statement

The APC similarly denied the alleged phone conversation in a statement by Felix Morka, the party’s national publicity secretary, on Tuesday.

The party described the “speculations” as mischievous, adding that the Presidential Election Petition Court should be allowed to do its job.

“We have become aware of a decidedly mischievous and intentionally misleading tweet by Jackson Ude.

“He alleged that Tinubu had a telephone conversation with the CJN, in which the CJN purportedly told the president and the APC to prepare for a presidential election rerun,” Morka said.

He said it was disturbing and disgraceful for Ude to fabricate a falsehood of this kind on a matter of serious national importance that was actively under review by the PEPC.

He maintained that Tinubu and the APC won the last presidential election without a doubt.

Morka added that the party and Tinubu did not need to engage in side conversations with the CJN regarding pending petitions before the PEPC.

He said as the core democrat that he was, Tinubu respected the right of aggrieved candidates in the election to seek redress for any grievances they may have.

He noted that the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act provided effective guarantees of that right.

“The PEPC should be afforded the time and space to perform its important constitutional and statutory duty of adjudicating and delivering a verdict in the matter without needlessly calling the integrity of our Judges into question.

“Falsehood and conjecture by the likes of Ude only aim to inflame political passions, create doubt and panic, and preemptively undermine the verdict of the courts in this important matter.

“We are confident that Nigerians are smarter and more discerning than to be affected by this opposition brand of tasteless and crass mercenary expedition,” the APC said.‘Perceived secret relationship’

This is not the first media speculation about secret communications between Tinubu and Ariwoola since after the disputed 25 February presidential election.

In March, an online news platform, Peoples Gazette, reported that the CJN disguised in a wheelchair to meet with Tinubu.

Tinubu was then the president-elect, and by then, it was clear that his election was going to be challenged in court.

Both the Supreme Court and Tinubu’s presidential campaign team came out to deny any meeting between the two men as reported.



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